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    Look of the Day: A Breath of Fresh Air

    l-37The weather’s behaving for a change and we’re feeling the need to breathe some fresh air into our wardrobes. Well, here’s the perfect way to keep it simple and summery – with a flattering Kitenge print dress that will take you from weekend casual to summer soiree stylish with just a change of accessories. Add a jumper and you’ve got yourself covered for the cooler weather.

    This classic dress from Kenyan label Njema Helena is a must-have look, and comes in another gorgeous print which you must also check out. We’ve added a recycled aluminium cuff, also crafted in Kenya by Embody, and recycled silver earrings made in Niger by a Tuareg family enterprise. So how do you like it?

    Shop Njema Helena here, Embody here and Tuareg jewellery here. Check out our Polyvore page, see all of our looks and join in the fun of creating styleboards here.

    Look of the Day: Power to the Peplum

    l-21Having made its come-back this time last year, the peplum silhouette proves it’s here to stay. And for good reason: the shape is both flattering and forgiving, and it complements everything from pencil skirts to flared pants. There are so many ways you can bring your look to life with this clever tailored lined peplum jacket. The tapered waist, v-shaped neckline, and pink African print (did someone say pink is on trend?), it looks fab as the understated statement piece on black for work or party.

    Get the look from

    • Tailored lined peplum jacket from Kenyan label KikoRomeo
    • Sateen slim fit slacks from Kenyan label Kooroo
    • Tuareg silver necklace and cuff
    • Bag and shoes from Chanel and Christian Louboutin


    Look of the Day: Bold & Beautiful


    How do you wear the dress that speaks volumes? No need to be a shrinking violet when it comes to accessorising. And speaking of violets, we’ve used that very colour for our coat and accessories, to add to that overall bold look. Bag and shoes in a neutral shade keep it all elegantly chic.

    Get the look from

    Modahnik Vlisco print dolman sleeve wrap dress with subtle pleat detailing on the skirt front

    Silver authentic Tuareg earrings, made by a family enterprise in Mali

    Recycled brass and glass ring made in Kenya for Made

    Recycled paper necklace from Ugandan social enterprise Nakate Project

    Coat, bag and shoes from LK Bennett, Hermes and Michael Kors

    Sapellé Style Notebook No.1

    Style Notebook no.1 v4


    We’re super excited to bring you the first of  a regular style feature from our current collection – the Sapellé Style Notebook! It’s been a long time coming, but our first edition is finally here.

    The Notebook is all about showcasing and bringing together the different (yet complimentary) aesthetics from our designers and artisans, who come from pretty much every corner of Africa (and we’re making strides to fill in the gaps!). So our first edition celebrates the arrival, after months of waiting, of our Tuareg collection. Mouhamed, the leader of the family cooperative that supplies our Tuareg pieces, had various hurdles he had to overcome from the time we placed our order in early 2013. But it’s finally here.

    So we thought we’d open our Style Notebook using inspiration from the elegant white robes and stunning silver tribal jewellery of the people of southern Sahara. We’re in love with this embroidered white linen caftan from Ghanaian label Miss Dee, paired with an elegant printed waistcoat from Mozambiquan label, Taibo Bacar and (for the day) a sophisticated raffia bag from Madagascar. And of course, topped off with a stunning set of Tuareg silver jewellery – the blue agate pendant being our favourite.

    You can shop the look here.

    Alphadi, ‘Magician of the Desert’, Opens in NY

    Mali-born fashion designer Alphadi has earned the much-deserved title ‘The Magician of the Desert’. His regal haute couture creations have graced catwalks and received much critical acclaim from Paris to Dakar. His beautiful gowns pay homage to the traditional flowing robes and beautiful, bold colours of the land of his upbringing, Niger, whilst being firmly contemporary.




    Alphadi, who trained in Paris and the USA, has boutiques in Paris, Cote d’Ivoire and Niger, but he has always had his eye on the Big Apple. The grand opening of his Brooklyn store (Classon Avenue near Brooklyn Museum for those of you lucky enough to be in the neighbourhood) in January 2013 was the realisation of that ambition.


    And the invitation-only event was heaving with well-wishers and fans, excited by the opportunity to buy ready-to-wear pieces from a designer whose haute couture garments price into the thousands of Pounds. And they weren’t disappointed by the range and depth of his opening collection.

    Alphadi mingling at his Brooklyn store launch

    Alphadi mingling at his Brooklyn store launch

    In an interview with the BBC, Alphadi explained that he wants to be an example for other African designers and to prove that African fashion is not just about the stereotypes we’ve all seen countless times, but that there are so many different facets to it: from unique prints, to leather working, embroidery, silks, hand-dyeing, and embellishing that make it original and beautiful.

    Alphadi's Dakar Fashion Week collection, June 2012

    A hand-dyed bazin gown and head wrap ensemble that’s reminiscent of Tuareg traditional costume, part of Alphadi’s Dakar Fashion Week collection, June 2012

    Alphadi has always been an advocate for peace in Mali, reinvesting earnings from his international fashion career back into his home under the banner ‘Fashion for Peace’. Alphadi was born in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an ancient trading hub, intellectual centre and popular metaphor for a mythical faraway place.

    But since jihadists stepped into a political vacuum following a coup, taking a stranglehold in the north of the country, tensions have escalated into the conflict that is currently raging.

    Model-Sachakara Alphadi

    Senegalese model Sachakara Dieng in Alphadi Pret-a-porter, featuring a hand-dyed bazin (or brocade) flowing jacket over a luxurious lace dress

    “The situation in Mali affects me deeply, I am Malian of origin, it cannot continue like this,” said Alphadi following his politically-relevant 2012 Dakar Fashion Week catwalk collection whose bright colours and occasional bare arms flouted the sharia law which has been enforced since the jihadists took power early last year.

    Like all who love the arts and culture, we applaud Alphadi’s efforts to raise awareness of the jihadists’ stifling of all forms of creativity and independence in the culturally-rich Mali, through his Fashion for Peace initiative, and we hope and pray for a quick resolution to the conflict.

    Dakar Fashion Week, June 2012

    Handwoven mudcloth influenced cowrie-shell embellished ensemble. Dakar Fashion Week

    Through Fashion for Peace, designs by Malian artisans and featuring hand-dyed polished cotton known as bazin, Alphadi wants to unveil Mali’s creativity which he says should not be stifled by sharia. Alphadi is also the founding president of the African Federation of Couture and the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) and is a fierce promoter of African fashion.

    ‘Our goal is to teach the young to love design and fashion, to stimulate black talent and to make black, yellow and white become one.’

    Now with a 200-strong workforce, and the New York ready-to-wear store in place, we’ll be looking forward to seeing more of Alphadi’s creations in the mainstream.

    Alphadi, Dakar Fashion Week

    Alphadi invokes a sultry desert look with this luxurious embroidered gown. Dakar Fashion Week

    Hand-embroidery and hand-dyed Bazin combine in this beautiful, bold dress. Dakar Fashion Week

















    Contributor: Daphne Kasambala

    Credits: BBC Africa Today, AFP

    Photos: Dakar Fashion Week